Tungnath is the highest Shiva temple in the world and is the highest of the five Panch Kedar temples located in the mountain range of Tunganath in Rudraprayag district, in the Indian state of Uttarakhand. The Tunganath (literal meaning: Lord of the peaks) mountains form the Mandakini and Alaknanda river valleys.
Located at an altitude of 3,680 m (12,073 ft), and just below the peak of Chandrashila, Tungnath temple is the highest Hindu shrine dedicated to Lord Shiva. The temple is believed to be 5000 years old and is the third (Tritiya Kedar) in the pecking order of the Panch Kedars. It has a rich legend linked to the Pandavas, heroes of the Mahabharata epic.
According to Hindu mythology Lord Shiva and his consort Parvati both reside in the Himalayas: Lord Shiva resides at Mount Kailash. Parvati is also called Shail Putri which means ‘daughter of hills’.
The Tunganath is indelibly linked to the origin of the Panch Kedar temples built by the Pandavas. The legend states that sage Vyas Rishi advised the Pandavas that since they were culpable of slaying their own relatives (Kauravas, their cousins) during the Mahabharata war or Kurukshetra war, their act could be pardoned only by Lord Shiva. Consequently, the Pandavas went in search of Shiva who was avoiding them since he was convinced of the guilt of Pandavas. In order to keep away from them, Shiva took the form of a bull and went into hiding in an underground safe haven at Guptakashi, where Pandavas chased him. But later Shiva’s body in the form of bull’s body parts rematerialized at five different locations that represent the “Panch Kedar” where Pandavas built temples of Lord Shiva at each location, to worship and venerate, seeking his pardon and blessings. Each one is identified with a part of his body; Tungnath is identified as the place where the bahu (hands) were seen: hump was seen at Kedarnath; head appeared at Rudranath; his navel and stomach surfaced at Madhyamaheshwar; and his jata (hair or locks) at Kalpeshwar.
Legend also states that Lord Rama, the chief icon of the Ramayana epic, meditated at the Chandrashila peak, which is close to Tungnath. It is also said that Ravana did penance to Shiva, the lord of the peaks, when he resided here
The priest at this temple is a local Brahmin from ukhimath village, unlike the other Kedar temples where the priests are from South India, a tradition set by the eighth century Hindu seer Sankaracharya. It is also said that the Maithani Brahmins officiate as priests at this temple. During the winter season, the temple is closed and the symbolic image of the deity and the temple priests are moved to Mukkumath, which is 19 km (12 mi) from here. It is near Duggalbitha 10 km (6 mi) before Chopta towards Ukhimath
Tungnath is at the top of the ridge dividing the waters of the Mandakini River (raising from Kedarnath) from those of the Alaknanda River (raising above Badrinath). The Tungnath peak on this ridge is the source of three springs, which form the Akashkamini River. The temple lies about 2 km (1.2 mi) below the Chandrashila Peak (4,000 m (13,123 ft)). The road to Chopta is just below this ridge and hence provides the shortest bridle approach path for trekking to the temple from Chopta, over a short distance of about 4 km (2.5 mi). From the top of the Chandrashila peak, picturseque views of the Himalayan range comprising snow peaks of Nanda Devi, Panch Chuli, Banderpoonch, Kedarnath, Chaukhamba and Neelkanth on one side, and the Garhwal valley on the opposite side could be witnessed. The valley between Chopta and Tunganath temple has wooded hills with rich alpine meadows with rhododendron coppices and also agricultural fields. The rhododendrons, when they are in full bloom during March, display dazzling colours ranging from crimson to pink. A high-altitude botanical station of the Garhwal University is located here. Nearing the top of the temple, there is a forest resthouse at Dugalibitta, just opposite to the Kedarnath range of hills. The Kedaranth Wild Life Sanctuary, also called the Kedarnath Musk Deer Sanctuary, set up in 1972 to preserve the endangered musk deer, which lies in the region, also has a musk deer breeding centre at Kharchula Kharak near Chopta.
Other than being a religious destination, Tungnath is also a well known trekking destination. The 4 km (2.5 mi) trek starts from Chopta (9,600 ft (2,926 m)), the nearest place on the NH 58. Chopta is 63 km (39 mi) from Rudraprayag towards Karnaprayag and is reached from Rishikesh via Devprayag, Srinagar and Rudraprayag.
Of all the Panch Kedar trek routes, the route to Tungnath is the shortest: only 4 km (2.5 mi) from Chopta (on the Ukhimath Gopeshwar road) that can be covered in approximately 3–4 hours (depending on the trekker’s physical ability). Trek is a moderate (and sometimes steep) climb (9,600–12,000 ft (2,926–3,658 m)), the trek path is stone paved with benches provided en route at intervals to rest and enjoy the beautiful views of the Chowkhamba, Nanda Devi, Neelkanth and Kedarnath peaks. Generally, the pilgrimage to Tunganath is undertaken as part of the Panch Kedar trekking covering all five temples over a 170 km (105.6 mi) route (road cum trek length) starting from Rishikesh in the order of: Kedarnath, Tungnath, Rudranath, Madhyamaheswar and Kalpeshwar. The few pilgrims who undertake this trekking pilgrimage to the shrine do so in summer months (end April or early May to October) as the temple remains snow bound and unapproachable. During this period even Chopta, the nearest road head remains deserted. But it is said that few adepts come to the area during the winter avoiding the pilgrims. The climb to Chandarshila is for 2 km (1.2 mi).
We’ll meet at 4 p.m. at our hotel in Luzern (Lucerne) for a “Welcome to Switzerland” meeting. Then we’ll take a meandering evening walk through Switzerland’s most charming lakeside town, and get acquainted with one another over dinner together. Sleep in Luzern (2 nights). No bus. Walking: light.
Enjoy an orientation walk of Zurich’s OLD TOWN, Switzerland’s center of banking and commerce. Then, leave Zurich and start your Swiss adventure. You’ll quickly discover that Switzerland isn’t just home to the Alps, but also to some of the most beautiful lakes. First, stop at the foot of the Jura Mountains in the picturesque town of Biel, known as Bienne by French-speaking Swiss, famous for watch-making, and explore the historical center. Next, enjoy a scenic drive to lakeside Neuchâtel, dominated by the medieval cathedral and castle. Time to stroll along the lake promenade before continuing to stunning Geneva, the second-largest city in Switzerland, with its fantastic lakeside location and breathtaking panoramas of the Alps.
Our morning drive takes us from Swiss lakes to Swiss Army. At the once-secret Swiss army bunker at Fortress Fürigen, we’ll see part of the massive defense system designed to keep Switzerland strong and neutral. Afterward, a short drive into the countryside brings us to the charming Alpine village of Engelberg, our picturesque home for the next two days. We’ll settle into our lodge then head out for an orientation walk. Our stroll through the village will end at the Engelberg Abbey, a Benedictine monastery with its own cheese-making operation. You’ll have free time to wander back before dinner together. Sleep in Engelberg (2 nights). Bus: 1 hr. Walking: light.
An unforgettable trip to the high Alpine wonderland of ice and snow is the true highlight of a visit to Switzerland. Globus Local Favorite At an amazing 11,332 feet, the JUNGFRAUJOCH is Europe’s highest railway station. Jungfrau’s 13,642-foot summit was first ascended in 1811 and in 1912 the rack railway was opened. There are lots of things to do here: enjoy the ALPINE SENSATION, THE PANORAMA 360° EXPERIENCE, and the ICE PALACE. Also receive your JUNGFRAU PASSPORT as a souvenir to take home with you. The round trip to the “Top of Europe” by MOUNTAIN TRAIN will take most of the day.
It’s market day in Lausanne! Enjoy browsing and packing a picnic lunch for our 11 a.m. boat cruise on Lake Geneva. A few miles down-shore we’ll dock at Château de Chillon, where we’ll have a guided tour of this delightfully medieval castle on the water. On our way back we’ll take time to peek into the vineyards surrounding Lutry before returning to Lausanne. Boat: 2 hrs. Bus: 1 hr. Walking: moderate.
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